Tag Archive for 'Prevention'

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Fish oil and adolescent psychosis

During the 40 weeks after receiving a brief course of ω-3 (“omega three”) polyunsaturated fatty acids, adolescents at risk for psychotic disorders were less likely to progress to psychotic status than similar peers who did not receive the supplement. In the study by G. Paul Amminger and colleagues, the youths in the treated group also had fewer positive, negative, and general symptoms of psychosis and improved overall functioning than those in the control group.

The youths in the treated group received a supplement of two fish-oil capsules twice a day for 12 weeks, and the controls received a placebo of coconut-oil capsules. The researchers then monitored their status and symptoms for the following 40 weeks.
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Virginia Campaign for Children’s Mental Health

Twelve key children’s services for community services boards
  1. specialized children’s emergency services;
  2. crisis stabilization;
  3. evaluations for Comprehensive Services Act services;
  4. psychiatric/medication;
  5. office-based mental health therapy;
  6. office-based substance abuse therapy;
  7. mental health case management;
  8. intellectual disabilities case management;
  9. substance abuse case management;
  10. home-based behavioral treatment and support for families;
  11. school-based day treatment; and
  12. local residential services.

Right here in my home commonwealth of Virginia last week, Mira Signe, Vicki Hardy-Murrell, John Morgan, and Margaret Nimmo Crowe explained why it is important that government and private organizations attend to and address issues in children’s mental health. By explaining that Virginia has inadequate services and that one in every five children or youths experience mental health problems at some time during their lives, they made the point that that there is a tremendous need for public focus on these issues. This was the kick-off event for the Campaign for Children’s Mental Health.

The Campaign for Children’s Mental Health is a 3-year sustained effort to make mental health services more available and accessible to Virginia children in need. It will strongly endorse Governor-elect McDonnell’s call for system improvements; urge the General Assembly and state and local government to work collaboratively with the administration to address system deficiencies; and conduct a high-profile three-year advocacy and education drive to build public and political support for improved mental health services for children.

Only about one in 20 of Virginia’s children have access to the key services listed in the accompanying box. So, four out of five children who need these services do not have access to them.

No, Virginia, this is not an acceptable way to treat our children. Let’s do better.

First Step takes off

Hill Walker and colleagues reported that the First Step to Success program benefitted young children at risk for developing emotional or behavioral disorders. In a longitudinal study of the three-year program conducted in Albuquerque (NM, US), the researchers found substantial reductions in disruptive behavior and improvements in social functioning.

In a press release, Professor Walker said, “Albuquerque was the first opportunity we had to mount a large-scale study of the program using a randomized control group, the gold standard for research. First Step has been implemented widely, but not [studied] in this way.”
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Screening teens

Writing under the headline “Pros and cons of screening teens for depression,” Brendan Borrell examined some of the issues that sometimes roar around surveying youths to identify those who are depressed or at risk for depression. Mr. Borrell’s article, which is one in a series of articles about depression appearing in the Los Angeles Times, addressed concerns such as parental reservations about testing of their children without permission, false positive identification of a high percentage of students, and the absence of adequate treatment for many who need help.

Mr. Borrell established the importance of the issue in his lead:

By the time a teenager graduates high school, about one out of nine of his or her peers has attempted suicide. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, behind car accidents and homicide, and 10% to 12% of teens ponder suicide every day.

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A. Duncan promotes PBIS

Arne Duncan, US Secretary of Education, wrote to the chief officers of education for each of the states in the US on 31 July 2009 regarding the use of seclusion and restraint in schools. He expressed concern about the testimony heard recently by the Education and Labor Committee of the US House of Representatives, and recommended that states adopt Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support.

My home State of Illinois has what I believe to be one good approach, including both a strong focus upon Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) as well as State regulations that limit the use of seclusion and restraint under most circumstances….

Several other States have also adopted effective seclusion and/or restraint policies, but there are many jurisdictions that have not, leaving students and teachers vulnerable.
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Evidence-based practices registry

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which is a part of the US Department of Health and Human Services, maintains a Web site where users can search for and learn more about methods for preventing or treating some Emotional and Behavioral Disorders. It’s called the “National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices” (NREPP) and, for those who are concerned about employing or recommending evidence-based practices, it’s worth reviewing.

The National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) is a searchable online registry of mental health and substance abuse interventions that have been reviewed and rated by independent reviewers.

The purpose of this registry is to assist the public in identifying approaches to preventing and treating mental and/or substance use disorders that have been scientifically tested and that can be readily disseminated to the field. NREPP is one way that SAMHSA is working to improve access to information on tested interventions and thereby reduce the lag time between the creation of scientific knowledge and its practical application in the field.

NREPP is a voluntary, self-nominating system in which intervention developers elect to participate. There will always be some interventions that are not submitted to NREPP, and not all that are submitted are reviewed. In addition, new intervention summaries are continually being added. The registry is expected to grow to a large number of interventions over the coming months and years. Please check back regularly to access the latest updates.

Although NREPP originally focused on substance abuse, its coverage is broader now. Look for resources about, for examples, Across Ages; Aggressors, Victims, and Bystanders: Thinking and Acting To Prevent Violence; Al’s Pals: Kids Making Healthy Choices; All Stars; Caring School Community; CASASTART; Children’s Summer Treatment Program (STP); Coping Cat; Creating Lasting Family Connections (CLFC)/Creating Lasting Connections (CLC); Early Risers “Skills for Success”; Families and Schools Together (FAST); Guiding Good Choices; Incredible Years; Keep A Clear Mind (KACM); Keepin’ it REAL; Lions Quest Skills for Adolescence; Multisystemic Therapy (MST) for Juvenile Offenders; Multisystemic Therapy With Psychiatric Supports (MST-Psychiatric); Positive Action; Primary Project; Project Northland; Project Towards No Tobacco Use; Project Venture; Promoting Alternative THinking Strategies (PATHS), PATHS Preschool; Protecting You/Protecting Me; Right Decisions, Right Now: Be Tobacco Free; SAFEChildren; Second Step; SMARTteam; Storytelling for Empowerment; Strengthening Families Program; Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14; Success in Stages: Build Respect, Stop Bullying; Too Good for Drugs; and Too Good for Violence;

Systems of care for ADHD

Children and youths with ADHD and their families ought to know about systems of care. Systems of care are networks of services that are coordinated across different agencies and groups within the community. A system of care focuses on the needs of individuals and should be designed so that it takes advantage of that person’s strengths (i.e., is “strengths based”) and unique characteristics (e.g., ethnic background and native language).

Systems of care have been studied extensively in the disciplines focused on Emotional and Behavioral Disorders. They are not just for kids “lost to the streets.” The coordination of services can be beneficial for individuals with ADHD, too.

Learn more about ADHD and systems of care from the SAMHSA, the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Download a PDF.

Familiar concerns?

Summer in the US finds children and youths out of school and, perhaps, less vulnerable to some of the problems that are associated with the social and academic demands that are part of schooling. As a result, perhaps fewer of the familiar problems illustrated in this poster are apparent during summer.

If summer seems like a relief from such problems, though, that could be an important indicator that those very problems need to be addressed. A few weeks away from school probably will not cure them. Those same difficulties may still be occurring, just less obviously, and they are likely to recur soon.

Individuals or the families of children who experience the kinds of problems noted in the poster should consult the resources available from the US government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. One will not find easy cures there, but by carefully perusing the resources available one can learn what signs to monitor and where to go to get help.

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